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2015 NFL Week 4: Inside the Colts Numbers - Disaster Avoided

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Despite a shoulder injury keeping Andrew Luck out of the game, the Colts got some fortuitous "luck" late Sunday in a 16-13 overtime victory over the Jaguars. While the win is what was needed, the Colts play should definitely not be repeated.

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

What took the Colts 14 tries in 2011 took just once in 2015: winning a game without their franchise Quarterback. The Andrew Luck-less Colts somehow managed to defeat the Jaguars Sunday 16-13 in Overtime, thanks to some timely stops by the Defense, a couple big plays in overtime, and 3 (!) missed field goals late in the game by the Non-Josh-Scobee Jags kicker, Jason Myers. To be honest, I thought it couldn't be done (win without Luck), but I guess if there's a team (or teams) that it could work against, they'd have to play in the AFC South. Woof.

One of the reasons the Colts were able to pull out a victory Sunday was that Matt Hasselbeck played better than expected for a guy who hadn't taken a meaningful snap in almost three years. He made sure he got rid of the ball quickly, ensuring he didn't take many hits, and didn't turn the ball over (although others still did), which is really all you could have asked for. He also found a favorite receiver in TE Coby Fleener, who made several big plays, including one in Overtime that got the Colts into Field Goal range on the final drive.

Elias had a couple notes on the accomplishments Hasselbeck enjoyed Sunday:

  • Only two other players in their 40s threw as many passes as Hasselbeck in one game (47) without throwing an INT: Vinny Testaverde for the Cowboys in 2004 (50 passes) and Brett Favre for the Vikings in 2009 (48).
  • Only four other NFL quarterbacks started a game in their 40s after at least two years without starting: George Blanda (1968 Raiders - W), Vince Evans (1995 Raiders - W), Steve DeBerg (1998 Falcons - L), and Warren Moon (2000 Chiefs - L).

Because we had seen him do it in the past, I had a sneaking suspicion that Chuck Pagano was going to try and "ice the kicker" at the end of regulation, and I'm really curious, especially if the Colts only win the division by a game, if that decision could have spelled the nail in the coffin, so to speak, in Pagano's tenure in Indianapolis. Luckily for him he was bailed out by a couple of feet, but it was really close to going through the second time around.

I think there are times that taking a timeout in that situation can be beneficial. First off, the team getting ready to kick must have taken a timeout already before the kick. This means the kicking team isn't being rushed onto the field with a set time limit, where the smallest thing could throw off the kicker's routine. The kicker can compose himself, take his time, get a few "practice swings", and get mentally ready without being rushed. This, of course, was not the case Sunday, as the Jaguars had no timeouts left. Secondly, it needs to be a medium range kick or shorter. Kickers (for the most part) are better than they've ever been, so icing him and allowing him to take a practice kick needs to be in a range where they'll still hit it most of the time, but making them do it twice puts it in a manageable range. For example, the odds of making an 80% kick (45ish yards) twice is just 64%, and you have to count on the kicker making his practice kick. From 50+, however, the odds are already in the opponents favor, as the majority of kickers are 50% or less from that range. Even though Myers had made one from 50+ already this year, making it in a game-winning situation was something he'd never faced before. I don't think "icing" is a never, but it certainly was not a good call Sunday.

How did the numbers look from Sunday? Let's take a look and see.

Non-Adjusted Stats for Week 4:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 67.6% 20 64.7% 7 N N 5-1
ANPY/A 5.720 21 6.059 13 N N 5-0
Turnovers 2 19 0 22 N Y 6-4
Yds/Drive 27.17 21 33.15 17 N Y 5-3
ToP/Drive 2:25.9 18 2:22.2 11 N N 6-4
Yds/Play 4.405 25 5.456 15 N Y 4-2
Orange Zone Eff 37.1% 25 46.4% 9 N N 8-1
First Downs/Drive 1.83 13 1.62 11 Y N 6-1
3rd/4th Down 46.7% 7 38.9% 17 Y N 5-2
Avg Start Pos 26.2 15 24.6 10 N N 3-3
3 and Outs 5 23 2 21 N Y 4-2
RZ Eff 46.4% 23 61.9% 16 N N 4-1
Plays/Drive 6.167 10 6.077 20 N N 4-4
Penalty Yds / Play 0.608 9 1.165 11 Y N 3-5
RB Success 25.0% 29 48.0% 22 N Y 3-3
Yds/Carry 2.50 29 5.07 25 N Y 1-3
Ranking - Week (30) 21 16 22
Ranking - Season (126) 98 50 80

Adjusted Stats for Week 4:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 68.3% 22 70.2% 14 N N 5-1
ANPY/A 5.285 17 6.345 14 N N 5-0
Turnovers 2.5 26 0.2 25 N Y 6-4
Yds/Drive 26.36 24 35.96 21 N Y 5-3
ToP/Drive 2:08.6 23 2:42.6 19 N N 6-4
Yds/Play 4.680 25 5.738 18 N Y 4-2
Orange Zone Eff 43.1% 23 52.7% 14 N N 8-1
First Downs/Drive 1.68 16 1.87 17 Y N 6-1
3rd/4th Down 38.6% 13 41.2% 18 Y N 5-2
Avg Start Pos 24.5 22 26.5 14 N N 3-3
3 and Outs 4.7 24 1.8 25 N Y 4-2
RZ Eff 48.8% 23 73.2% 21 N N 4-1
Plays/Drive 5.693 17 6.276 25 N N 4-4
Penalty Yds / Play 0.758 11 1.171 11 Y N 3-5
RB Success 29.6% 28 49.1% 23 N Y 3-3
Yds/Carry 3.42 25 5.11 26 N Y 1-3
Ranking - Week (30) 25 20 27
Ranking - Season (126) 112 89 118

Some thoughts:

  • This was one of the 10 worst games played so far this season, based on the Winning Stats, yet somehow the Colts found a way to win. While their play wasn't impressive, winning certainly was.
  • Two more turnovers, one each for the top 2 running backs. Is it just me, or does there seem to be way more fumbles inside the opponents 3 yard line this year, both college and NFL? It seems like every game I watch now it seems to happen, and Frank Gore has done it twice in the past 3 games. It should have cost the Colts the game.
  • The Colts did convert a pretty good percentage of 3rd/4th Downs, which was made look worse in the adjusted numbers by just how bad the Jaguars Defense is at stopping them, but maybe that gave the Offense enough confidence to win. Always good to see multiple conversions.
  • One thing I rarely talk about from these tables are Penalties, but I think they played a big part Sunday. From our friend Kyle Rodriguez:


    You can see the drive stats weren't very good, but the Penalty numbers were both in the Colts favor. Their best drive, by far, was the one where Gore fumbled. Just how the season's gone so far.
  • It made sense that the Jaguars would load up the box and force Hasselbeck to beat them, and these rushing stats, along with 47 pass attempts, tell us that's exactly what the Colts did. The late Gore run really did seal the deal though, so they got the run when they needed it.
  • The Colts Defense looked slightly below average, on the whole, as they allowed the Jaguars to move the ball, especially on the ground, but got them off the field just in time to either force a punt or for them to miss a field goal late.
  • The Defense also continues to struggle forcing turnovers, coming up empty-handed for the second time this year. The deficit continues to grow.

Season Stats through Week 4 (Adjusted):

Statistic Offense Rank Best Defense Rank Best Record Win %
DSR 73.7% 9 Patriots 66.2% 9 Seahawks 21-3 0.875
ANPY/A 5.147 22 Bengals 6.976 26 Panthers 28-2 0.933
Turnovers 2.48 31 Falcons 0.87 30 Jets 27-7 0.794
Yds/Drive 31.35 9 Patriots 34.17 29 Jets 19-6 0.760
ToP/Drive 2:41.0 15 Cowboys 2:49.0 21 Titans 24-12 0.667
Yds/Play 5.497 10 Bengals 5.721 26 Jets 21-5 0.808
Orange Zone Eff 60.6% 8 Falcons 49.8% 13 Seahawks 27-4 0.871
First Downs/Drive 1.85 7 Patriots 1.76 15 Cardinals 23-6 0.793
3rd/4th Down 50.3% 1 Colts 32.9% 8 Bills 20-10 0.667
Avg Start Pos 26.3 30 Jets 31.4 26 Giants 26-7 0.788
3 and Outs 3.65 16 Patriots 2.65 29 Titans 17-6 0.739
RZ Eff 72.6% 10 Patriots 71.2% 23 Seahawks 23-9 0.719
Plays/Drive 5.870 8 Saints 5.842 21 Titans 20-13 0.606
Penalty Yds / Play 0.817 13 49ers 1.035 5 Patriots 14-14 0.500
RB Success 45.2% 13 Bengals 41.6% 12 Broncos 10-17 0.370
Yds/Carry 4.29 10 Vikings 4.23 22 Jaguars 9-13 0.409
Overall 10 Patriots 25 Jets

Some thoughts:

  • The Colts lead the NFL on 3rd/4th Down conversions, getting over 50% against an average Defense. Sure doesn't seem like it should be that high, as I think it's been pretty streaky. But to see the Colts leading an Offensive category is surprising.
  • The Defense is still a far cry from the "league average" unit they need to be, but I'm still holding out hope that returning from injury players will help these numbers. Maybe I'm being too optimistic, but the Pass Defense will improve with a healthy set of CBs, which the Colts haven't had yet.

Week-by-Week Comparison:

Colts Opponent Non-Adjusted Adjusted
Week Offense Defense Total Offense Defense Total
1 Bills 45 111 90 25 116 80
2 Jets 113 74 111 75 92 96
3 Titans 75 71 74 40 73 54
4 Jaguars 98 50 80 112 89 118

You can clearly tell the difference between the Colts Offense with Andrew Luck and without him, so it's pretty clear there aren't many teams the Colts would be able to depend on Matt Hasselbeck giving them a chance to win. Thankfully the stars aligned and one of those teams happened to be the Colts opponent on Sunday. You can also see the Buffalo game getting better and better each week, meaning the Offense really didn't play all that bad; it just went against a very good Defense.